Imagine, if you will, a scenario in which Brandon Morrow is a starter again. Visualize Morrow as he logs a 1-2-3 first inning, before exiting the game in favor of reliever Miguel Batista. See Batista record a perfect inning, as well, before handing the keys to Roy Corcoran in the third. Watch Corcoran follow suit with a gem of his own before relinquishing the following inning to another reliever. And so on, and so forth.
Pay witness as this scenario plays itself out across all nine innings. One pitcher per inning, nine pitchers per game, for each and every contest in the 162-game season.
This may sound ridiculous, but it appears to be what the Mariners are working towards.
Yesterday, they signed ex-Texas Rangers closer Jeff Zimmerman to a minor league contract. The 36-year-old Zimmerman may as well be Jake Taylor from Major League; the dude hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2001, and his one and only career year came back in 1999.
“This kid was pretty good at one time,” said M’s GM Jack Zduriencik. And that’s about all you can say. He was good at one time. And that one time was a decade ago.
You don’t see teams snapping up the likes of Kent Bottenfield, Jeff Shaw, Mike Williams, or other flash-in-the-pan pitchers that reached their career apex ten years ago. So why Zimmerman?
Well, the answer is simple: He fits into the M’s nine-closer rotation of pitchers.
After Corcoran exits in the third, he can hand the ball to Zimmerman. After Zimmerman gets his one-inning workout, let him pass the ball onto Independent League product Chris Jakubauskas. Jak can then pass it on to Erik Bedard (who, let’s face it, could be a dominant one-inning force), who can give it to Mark Lowe, who will turn things over to David Aardsma, who will bow out in favor of Chad Cordero.
Wait, Chad Cordero? Ex-Washington National Chad Cordero?
Yes, Cordero lives. He, too, is a Mariner.
The 2005 National League saves leader is currently throwing in extended spring training at the Mariners’ Peoria facility. Cordero, now 27 years of age and coming off shoulder surgery, is building his arm strength as he waits for Dr. Zduriencik’s devilish plan to be unveiled.
The de facto closer amongst closers in this nine-man alignment of ultimate relief, Secret Weapon Chad Cordero would be dispatched as the metaphorical door slammer under this system of Pitching Nouveau. Hand him the ball, let him rack up the saves, anoint him your leader.
Imagine the frustration endured by opposing lineups. A new pitcher each inning, zero familiarity in the batter’s box, complete discomfort at home plate, no chance of getting a hit.
This could work.
And if one man is crazy enough to try it, it’s Dr. Z himself, mad scientist Jack Zduriencik.